Edna Pontellier's Autonomous Awakening

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Edna’s Autonomous Awakening Within Kate Chopin’s The Awakening there is an internal question of not only the autonomy of the female self but of the self as an individual. Jules Chametzky echoes this sentiment in his assessment of “Edna and the ‘Woman Question.’” Both authors, however, suggest that the struggles involved with finding the self or awakening to a higher awareness of that female or individual self. I will discuss these struggles and show that Edna, in choosing her own fate, overcame the struggles for autonomy. From the very first words of the novel where “a green and yellow parrot, which hung in a cage outside the door, kept repeating over and over: ‘Allez vous-en! Allez vous-en! Sapristi!” Chopin begins setting up the novel with symbolism of a…show more content…
When Edna is in the sea, she is like the “little tottering, stumbling, clutching child, who of a sudden realizes its powers, and walks for the first time alone, boldly with over-confidence…she wanted to swim far out, where no woman had swum before…a feeling of exultation overtook her, as if some power of significant import had been given to her soul” (27). In this scene, Edna gets a vision of death and it requires an extraneous amount of effort to return to shore. When she does return, however, she tells her husband that she thought she was going to die in the sea. He responds to her by saying that she is essentially over-reacting because she wasn’t even that far from shore. This is the climax in the story and the beginning of all the unfolding between Edna and the world around her. Not only does she begin to assert her dominance and autonomous nature to her husband, refusing to undergo her husband’s trivial tasks such as Tuesday meetings or meeting menial demands such as coming inside from the porch to

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